Did a supporter of the Maui ballot initiative calling for a temporary moratorium on GMO farming offer to buy votes to help get the measure passed?

That’s what the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office is currently looking into.

Michael Lilly, a Honolulu attorney, sent an email to the AG and the state Offices of Elections on Oct. 17 asking them to examine what appears to be a Facebook post offering services in exchange for a “yes” vote:

I am forwarding the attached snapshot from a facebook page by someone called Luna Carlisle offering to pay anyone for voting “YES” on the Maui Farm Ban initiative in the upcoming election.  The page concludes, “I don’t mind buying votes!!”

I am not an expert in election laws, but 42 USCS § 1973i(c) makes it a felony to offer to pay or accept payment for a vote.  I assume Hawai`i has a similar law.

Please take whatever action you deem appropriate under the circumstances.

Lilly, who served as attorney general and first deputy attorney general of Hawaii from 1981 to 1985, confirmed for Civil Beat today that he sent the inquiry. He says a screen shot of the Facebook post was emailed to him from a Maui constituent.

“Merely offering to pay for a vote is a violation of Hawaii’s election laws, and it carries a prison term of not more than two years and a fine not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000,” he said, adding that it is a felony at the federal level, too.

A spokesman for the AG’s Office confirmed that it is reviewing the matter, but declined to comment further.

The Facebook post in question identifies The SHAKA Movement, the nonprofit that has spearheaded putting the initiative on the ballot. It’s not clear if Luna Carlisle is a member of the group, but her Facebook page illustrates that she is strongly in support of voting “yes” on the GMO question.

UPDATED: Carlisle sent me an email Friday morning:

FYI, The MOMENT I was informed that what I had posted was illegal, I removed the post and called the attorney general to make sure he knew that I had removed the post and that I was not aware it was illegal. Honestly it was just a tongue in cheek thing anyway.

Frankly, it amazes me that Monsanto and Dow can spend $8 million dollars on a deceptive campaign that instills fear and confusion into the community, but I jokingly toss a little glitter into their mudslinging match and it’s news. As for my affiliations, I did not post on behalf of SHAKA. I am a private citizen.

Anyway, make sure to report THAT, too.

As Civil Beat reported this week, nearly $8 million has been raised to defeat the Maui GMO ballot initiative, $5 million spent by biotech giant Monsanto alone. Proponents of the initiative have spent under $83,000.

Facebook screen shot on Maui GMO vote buying

Screen shot forwarded to Michael Lilly.

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